Science, technology, engineering, and math: those all sound like the boring classes you hated in high school, right? That may be true, but they’re also a collection of educational disciplines that make up STEM. STEM is a hot word in most universities and colleges these days, because with this crazy awesome technological renaissance happening around us (hello AI, green energy, interplanetary exploration, and totally functional bionic limbs), new career opportunities and fields of study are being created like never before, and you have the opportunity to build a career in one of the fields that are literally turning science fiction into science fact. Here are seven reasons why obtaining a degree in STEM is pretty much the coolest thing you can do right now:
1. Bill Nye the Science Guy is an engineer: This one may not be too surprising, because “science” is in his name, but Bill Nye is Gen Z’s collective childhood hero, so I had to bring this up. You may have thought that Bill needed a gazillion different degrees to become the world’s Science Guy, but he got his sole degree, a BS in mechanical engineering (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Nye), at Cornell University. Moral of the story: want to have your own theme song? Get an engineering degree.
2. You can earn money by solving math problems: math homework? Not that fun. Math homework that could win you $1,000,000? A lot more fun. If you solve the Riemann Hypothesis (http://www.claymath.org/millennium-problems/riemann-hypothesis) or the Beal Conjecture (https://bealconjecture.com/), you’re awarded $1,000,000 for solving these somewhat unsolvable math problems. (Pro tip: only the first person to solve the problems gets the prize money, so hurry up and start getting that mathematics degree!)
3. If you’re interested in marine biology, you can play with baby seals as part of the *~*~*educational process:*~*~* You read that right. Baby. Seals. If you decide to pursue an undergraduate degree in marine biology in a coastal city like Halifax or Vancouver, you will be doing lots of hands-on research with marine animals like fish, starfish, jellyfish, and even baby seals. Your in-class Instagram stories will never be boring again!
4. Matt Damon definitely would have gotten stuck on Mars if he didn’t have STEM degrees: Ignoring the fact that Matt Damon’s character in the movie The Martian (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3659388/) wouldn’t have been on Mars if he wasn’t an astronaut (hello, STEM!), it’s pretty easy to say that he wouldn’t have been able to make it off of Mars after getting stuck there during an exploratory mission gone awry, much less been able to grow his own food there, if he didn’t have the engineering and botany background that his character did. At one point, he was even able to combust his own oxygen using methods that he learned when getting one or both of his STEM degrees. And even cooler, the best part about The Martian is that the science in the movie and the eponymous book that the movie is based on is completely sound.
5. You could make an animatronic Abraham Lincoln like this one to scare your friends with (https://www.fastcompany.com/40450007/this-uncanny-robot-abraham-lincoln-got-his-start-as-an-enemy-combatant): Pursue a degree in mechatronics engineering. That is all.
6. With a biochemistry degree, you can become a major player in the newly emerging synthetic meat development market: lab-grown meat tissues, or “clean meat,” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u468xY1T8fw) will be a fantastic alternative to animal raised meat you get in the grocery store now, helping humans tackle the massive environmental problems created by animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is the third largest contributor to greenhouse emissions globally, only after electricity and heat production and fossil fuels (http://www.worldwatch.org/agriculture-and-livestock-remain-major-sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions-0), and by working to create a sustainable and low-emissions alternative to animal agriculture, you’re securing a better future for our planet in the tastiest way possible.
7. A man in Florida is living with a mind-controlled robotic arm at the very moment, and you could make sure thousands of other people with prosthetic limbs can too: Johnny Matheny of Port Richey, Florida, was the recipient of the first-ever mind-controlled robotic arm (http://futurism.com/mind-controlled-robotic-arm-johnny-matherny/) in early 2018. Who made that arm? Scientists. Doctors. Engineers. Cell Biologists. It has taken hundreds of years of study in STEM fields by thousands of people to gather all the information needed to create a functioning replacement arm for a man who lost his to cancer. And guess what? You can be one of the people who discover the scientific breakthrough needed to create a product to change someone’s life for the better. Shoot for the stars! Get that STEM degree!
Zoe London Emily Wright is an engineering student at McMaster University and the Founder of STEM Femmes. When she isn’t studying, she runs her own small business, practices yoga, and hangs out with her dog, Daisy. Zoe’s dream job is to be a Disney Imagineer (someone who builds the rides at Disney World!).